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December 07, 2003
My Shoelaces Are Incompetent
Often I feel like I'm in Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine
. No, not because my shoelaces break, but because the round ones included with my pair of Converse sneakers just don't stay tied. Sometimes I have to tie them several times a day, even a few minutes after I put the shoes on. In what way is this appropriate for playing basketball? As I rediscovered this weekend, it's also not so great when you're trying to shovel snow. I rarely had this problem with the flat laces on my previous sneakers.
December 06, 2003
Where in the World Is Britney Spears?
It's weird how just a few weeks ago Britney Spears was all over the place promoting her new album -- magazines, TV specials, talk show appearances -- and now it's like she's gone into hiding. I know her 22nd birthday was December 2, but you'd think some people would still be working to keep up the publicity. Is In the Zone that bad? I haven't heard it and I don't expect much if "Me Against the Music" is the best it has to offer, but I've been wrong about her albums before (apparently the best songs aren't always released as singles). With all the power she has, she's one of the few musicians who may be able to fix the music industry. I just hope a decrease in her market visibility doesn't ruin her chances.
December 05, 2003
Well, Excuse Me!
I've noticed that "'scuse me" has almost thoroughly taken the place of "excuse me" in spoken English. Even news broadcasters say it on occasion (but then, their standards for speech have been sliding toward the vernacular for years). I think this usage occurs so frequently that it's become hard to say "excuse me" without sounding sarcastic, pretentious, or hostile, particularly when trying to get someone's attention (when moving through a crowd or asking for help, for instance). Perhaps the last "comfortable" use of the spoken "excuse me" occurs when someone sneezes or coughs and then uses the phrase to divert attention, which I'm not sure is usually necessary or helpful. Yet people on the news seem to like it, even if they can't manage to utter the extra syllable.
December 04, 2003
The Barbarism of Vegetarianism
Yesterday I saw a news report about a PETA billboard for vegetarianism
, in which the Virgin Mary holds a chicken carcass. A spokesman was interviewed, and basically spouted the usual claim that vegetarianism is the most ethical way to eat. I find that view ignorant. Eating animals involves killing, and unfortunately there is pain involved that should be minimized. But vegetarians are not ethically off the hook. They also eat living things. They often eat living things while they're still alive. They often eat the young and potential young as well. But plants can't feel pain; they aren't sentient beings, some may say. True, plants do not seem to have the faculties that even small animals have, and I'm not saying that plants necessarily deserve the same level of ethical consideration. Yet remember that animals were once viewed as mere automata, not worthy of thought, existing solely for human use (in some cases they are still viewed that way). Societal views change, and what was once normal can later be viewed as barbaric in light of scientific and philosophical discovery. Humans have incomplete knowledge; it's possible that one day certain plant structures will be understood as the source of "rudimentary" intelligence and pain sensation. What will the vegetarian elite say then?
So, what's an ethicist to eat? The issue remains unclear, like so many things in life. Perhaps the safest route is to become a frugivore and eat only fruit, the part meant for eating, making sure not to eat any seeds. But humans are omnivorous, and we can't escape that fact. Until science discovers a way to prevent the need to eat, we should eat in moderation, mindful that consumption involves destruction.
December 03, 2003
Gee, ping Weblogs.com
and suddenly your website's visited by several bots you've never seen before: timboBot, Technoratibot, Feedster Crawler, NITLE Blog Spider, Waypath Scout, obidos-bot, and others that I can't identify. Now, if only they'd leave some comments....
December 02, 2003
The Ultimate Sacrifice
I'm tired of the news media using "the ultimate sacrifice" as a synonym for dying heroically. Yes, losing one's own life to save others is noble and deserves respect, but it is not an "ultimate" sacrifice in the sense of "greatest" or "most significant", a sacrifice in which a person has lost the most. While "ultimate" is primarily used to mean "last", I don't believe this is the sense that is usually meant in the context of praising a hero. In fact, calling death the ultimate sacrifice may be a sort of unintentional insult, saying that the most a person had to lose was his or her life. But then, what's a more ultimate sacrifice than death? Losing one's soul, one's entire capacity for goodness, which in the vast majority of cases is not something to be revered. At least not until sweeps season.
December 01, 2003
Evil: The Nineties vs. Now
Recently, I thought of how this time of nothingness compares to the late 1990s, particularly in terms of where I saw the most danger to society. When the New Right and the Christian Coalition took over the Republican Party with renewed vigor, times were changing. For me, the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995 and the Contract with America that was pushed by Newt Gingrich and the like were the marks of a different-but-recognizable kind of threat to America. Rather than using the bombing as an excuse to increase the good in the world, many Republicans used it as an excuse to spread evil. I remember seeing an increasing number of news stories about freedoms being eroded and bigotry making a comeback. It was shocking -- this was the Nineties! We were supposed to have been past all that horror of repressive laws, of seeing certain groups as inferior! I saw that there were forces actively bringing down the country from within, erasing the progress that took so long to accumulate. What came from that time, for me at least, was the realization that evil is still real, and good people need to remain vigilant. Luckily much of what happened was well-reported, even bragged about by its perpetrators. Eventually many of the most virulent parts of the movement were dismantled, and life seemed to stabilize for a bit. However, what makes that time different from today is that evil is now more slow-moving, and less blatant. This is not to ignore horrific spectacles such as September 11th, but for the most part it seems that evil in America has transformed into a subtle force of destruction, making our way of life disappear bit by bit, using occasional chaos to cripple us and keep us from noticing its real purpose. Its main weapon is no longer some loud, angry Republican claiming to speak for God; instead, it finds refuge in unassuming people with protective intentions, and a populace drained of the ability to pay attention and care.
November 29, 2003
Mariah's Music in the Love Actually Movie Trailer
Part of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is in the movie trailer for Love Actually
, except it's not her rendition. Apparently the one in the movie is sung by Olivia Olson, an actress in the movie. I'm conflicted about this. While the remake brings the song back into public consciousness and what I've heard of it sounds so great that I'm considering seeing the movie, I don't think remaking one of the greatest songs of all time is the best use of talent: I doubt anyone can add anything to it. Granted, it's a wonderful accomplishment to be able to approach the greatness of the original rendition, but the world already has the ultimate version. Talent like that should be directed at improving bad or mediocre songs, or better yet, producing something original.
This Moment in Blog Layout
I think I'm satisfied with how this blog looks for the moment, though there's still some tweaking to be done. Nucleus' system of skins and templates is somewhat counterintuitive at first, and I think it's inefficient to have to edit the same layout elements in several places by default (I've started moving certain elements into separate files, which I can then include with the built-in include and parsedinclude skinvars). For now I haven't activated account creation here: I hope to find some way to share the member tables between this blog and my forums
, which use phpBB.
November 28, 2003
Christmas Consumerism Helps Us Play!
Well, it's the day after Thanksgiving, and at least for reporters who have to visit malls, that apparently means the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Every year the media has to make a big deal about how crowded the stores are or aren't, and we have to hear from experts about what it means for the economy. Naturally there must be interviews with shoppers who say that they plan to spend several hundred dollars while still looking for bargains. Then as we get closer to Christmas, the media hype grows, reporters get sappy, and consumerism is held aloft as society's greatest accomplishment. The saddest part of all is when it involves children: Indoctrinated early and often, they're bombarded from everywhere with images and stories of Santa Claus. Hopefully it's just a case of the media gone stupid -- the public can't be that materialistic. But Christmas has been overhyped for years, so much so that many people no doubt have found God in the mythology of the holiday shopping season. Whatever happened to moderation, and those community and family values that the media likes to promote as the true meaning of Christmas? Also, I've heard Christmas was once about the birth of Jesus Christ -- maybe some reporters should check into that, if they ever come back from the malls.
In the Beginning...
Yes, it seems I've started a blog. In typical cosmopoietic fashion, it begins as a formless, uncategorized mass -- I'm not entirely sure of its direction or layout, but I think it's worthwhile to consider what's written on this site's About page
. We're existing in a time when meaning and humanity are becoming increasingly irrelevant, when culture is disintegrating into nothingness. Whether anyone can do anything about it is unknown. But at least this is something -- a way to point out what should be noticed, a way to build connections, a way to bring back meaning before it's too late.
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